How do design codes impact healthcare FM?

As impending mega events spur hospital development in the GCC, fmME rounds up what regional healthcare codes and outsourcing opportunities mean for local FM providers

Stable outlook: Numerous codes exist to govern the quality of ergonomics and FM at regional hospitals.
Stable outlook: Numerous codes exist to govern the quality of ergonomics and FM at regional hospitals.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Qatar’s healthcare facilities are strained as the country’s population rises on the back of the impending 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The country’s Primary Healthcare Corporation (PHCC) stated that more than 3 million people visited the primary health centres across the country over a 16-month period.

PHCC data shows that between January 2015 and April 2016, six healthcare centres in Qatar’s central region received more than 1.18 million visitors, the highest for any area in the country.

Local daily The Peninsula reported in June that many health centres in the region underwent renovations and introduced new programmes and services as well, according to Dr Fathia Al Meer, director of the central region at PHCC.

Qataris also reaped the benefits of newly introduced smart clinics, which were launched as a pilot project for diabetes check-up and follow-up treatment in the country.

Two other medical centres were expanded to increase capacity and working hours, while their laboratories were also extended.

For FM companies in the Middle East, mega events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Dubai Expo 2020 pose exceptional growth prospects in the niche sector of healthcare FM. Despite a slump in the pace at which regional developments are being implemented, it is altogether likely that FM companies will record significant wins as Gulf states look to boost their non-oil economies and meet growing population numbers.

At the forefront of these initiatives will be Dubai, which is rapidly evolving into the Middle East’s busiest and most technologically advanced medical hub.

Dubai’s private sector healthcare providers are expected to develop 1,500 beds by 2020, according to a Colliers International report published in March 2016.

This demand could translate into an investment of almost $1.5bn (AED5.51bn), Colliers added.

Specialist hard FM techniques are likely to emerge as a result of this demand, according to an official from ICME Healthcare, a medical consultancy and management firm.

“One of the critical components across all healthcare designs now is infection control,” Mike Barns, senior project manager and architect at ICME, explained.

“There are a number of international standards, and quite a few local standards managed independently by individual countries, that set out what materials can be used to create hospital finishes such as floors, walls, desk surfaces, and so on.

“The key document [driving these codes] comes from the US, and its infection control regulations have been adopted pretty well in the UAE. These set out [standards] such as materials that will resist fungus and fungal growth, and resist spores multiplying.

“In all of the new hospitals that have been designed and built, in the UAE in particular, and also in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman, these infection control guidelines and requirements steer the selection of materials that are available for use,” Barns added.

The UAE’s Emirates Green Building Code (EmiratesGBC) is also working to improve the quality of indoor air in the country’s buildings. This June, panellists at a seminar hosted by EmiratesGBC pointed out that building managers must focus on materials such as the choice of indoor paint and indoor air quality-related equipment such as HVAC and exhausts, as well as their maintenance and cleaning modules. As GCC property markets steer towards sustainable practices, FM professionals would do well to raise awareness about how hospitals can be made more energy-efficient, the panel agreed.

Speaking at the Green Hospital Symposium held at Dubai’s Saudi German Hospital this March, Markus Oberlin, CEO of Farnek, also said energy savings and end-user comfort in hospitals could be realised through outsourced FM operations – especially with regards to medical waste management.

“Our operational audit team highlights areas where improvements can be made to reduce the volume of waste that would ordinarily go to landfill,” Oberlin concluded.

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